Digital Humanities Webminar: some working tools

Following some of the digital methods I explored recently (http://man.herm3tica.tv/topic-modelling-nietzsches-work/), I will be facilitating a Digital humanities webminar with Tecnológico de Monterrey Guadalajara on May 21st at 6pm (CDMX local time).

Abstract

While data mining and statistical learning are born as tools of the exact sciences, business, and government agencies, their value to the human and social sciences has increasingly been demonstrated. Due to the growing interest aroused by the large amount of unstructured information shared on the Internet, technical analyzes have required to explore texts, images, relational networks or geographic data. It is precisely this type of data that the Humanities work with, benefiting, indirectly, from the very evolution of computing tools, giving rise to the emerging field of knowledge of digital Humanities. During this conference we will examine some of the possibilities of the free software tool R for this type of analysis.

Requirements

Throughout this Digital humanities webminar, attendees will be able to follow several of the demonstrations raised through the RStudio Cloud platform (rstudio.cloud); assistants want to practice with some of the examples should have an account created.

Schizoanalysis as materialistic & technological practice

The fact that schizoanalysis is a materialistic practice is not always so evident as it should. No few critics have spoken about Deleuze -as well as about Deleuze & Guattari (D&G in advance)- as postmodernist theorists. They highlighted the fact that their philosophy makes too emphasis on correlative processes (Harman 2018, Meillassoux 2009). Others, have pointed out how their philosophy plays no attention to the difference, exposing an excessive proclamation of connections, leading to an extremely open and positive world (Han, 2017). I won’t say that any of those philosophies are totally wrong; they provide new and interesting arguments and approaches. However, they are not totally fair with D&G philosophy -maybe, just Bryant (2014) has recognized more deeply this heritage-. They tend to simplify and forget very important points, which I will try to defend -briefly- here.

In addition, and to not transform this post in a too academic one, I will relate the exposition with my own experience, putting into practice D&G philosophy in a technological applied project. This project was herm3TIC: cameras, sensors and telepresence, where I managed a team of artists and programmers exploring new uses of technology. We explicitly tried to implement a version of schizoanalysis. Let’s resume some of the features of this project which attend the debate I presented at the beginning.

Body without organs: schizoanalysis as materialistic & technological practice
herm3TIC: body without organs

The importance of schizoanalysis itself

Actually, schizoanalysis is a quite interesting proposal. Is timely today, because it develops a subjective study but without assume any origin or identity. On the contrary, it tries to study subjectivity in its social group dimension. And it is truly suitable to the circumstances we live today: an interconnected world where people spend more time in their social networks sharing likes and concerns than militating in a political party.

The natural link between schizoanalysis and technology

Since D&G understand nature as a production process, any resemblance of schizoanalysis with mystics or reactive movements against technology has to be discarded. Schizoanalysis is a proposal which embraces technology, overall in its capacity to transform processes generating difference and heterogeneity. They follow, in this sense, Simondon (2017) thought: technology has to imply individuation processes, far away of the mainstream use of a consumer technology. In herm3TIC project, for example, technologies were developed for specific tasks. The same happens with many other free software & hardware projects, as Lanier (2011) have already pointed out.

The relevance of the body

However, playing attention to technology doesn’t imply to forget the body. On the contrary, schizoanalysis achieves a deep understanding of the body. With the concept of body without organs, D&G are able to speak about a materiality which is not just individual, nor social, neither natural; but exists in all this strata in a transversal way. Also, with this concept, D&G run away of the semiotics imperative which domains schools as psychoanalysis. It is not a question of interpretation, but of production! -D&G always remind us-.

Time-image. Schizoanalysis as materialistic & technological practice
herm3TIC: Time-image

Schizoanalysis subjectivities production is materialistic on this transversal way: taking in account the body, but also the social body or even nature. In this sense, we reach the concept of ecology which Guattari (2014) developed in his works alone. Also Byant (2014) has proposed a cartographic ontology method very allied with D&G and those ideas. With those basis, we can suggest the necessity of overcome the semiotic view combining materialistic approaches.

The importance of inorganic strata

Related with last idea of transversal methods, D&G have defended the interconnection of all the reality without hierarchies. Particularly, schizoanalysis has to be the place to practice all kind of decentralizations. According with that, many authors has developed the idea of a flat ontology, where no strata is more important than other. However, this idea was already present in D&G -as Delanda (2011) has explained-. The idea should let us to think the power we have to stay away or even feel different. Even, all the analytical implementations that data mining and Big Data provide, which allow us to interconnect all dimensions of reality, could be understood very well from D&G point of view. I tried to demonstrate this fact in Cebral (2019).

The importance of arts and creativity

Actually, Deleuze has thought in his latest works about sensation (2004); and with Guattari has exposed the capacity of artworks to transform our conception of reality (2014). Art is an example of how we can become matter. Creating blocks of sensation, art allows us to transform the conception we have about reality. Connected with the importance of body, as well as with operations of decentralization, art should be in the center of a technology development. Even more if this technology want to interact and transform human subjectivity.

So, here I exposed some reasons I think could give us an idea of the relevance schizoanalysis could reach nowadays. The technological becoming of our society has to be understood in a subjective and creative way. We need to reply to psychological disorders but, at the same time, we need to give an answer which does not idealize life, human being, nor history. Schizoanalysis was conceived to do such a things, probably its biggest problem is just one: it has hardly been implemented.

You can also consult more projects I developed here.

REFERENCES

Bryant, L. R. (2014). Onto-cartography: An ontology of machines and media. Edinburgh University Press.

Cebral Loureda, M. (2019). La revoluciòn cibernética desde la filosofía de Gilles Deleuze: Una revisión crítica de las herramientas de minería de datos y Big Data [Universidade de Santiago de Compostela]. http://hdl.handle.net/10347/20263

De Landa, M. (2011). Intensive science and virtual philosophy (Reprint). Continuum.

Deleuze, G. (2004). Francis Bacon: The logic of sensation. University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, G., Guattari, F., Tomlinson, J., & Burchell III, G. (2014). What Is Philosophy? Columbia University Press. http://public.ebookcentral.proquest.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1922350

Guattari, F. (2014). The three ecologies. Bloomsbury Academic.

Han, B.-C., & DeMarco, A. (2017). Topology of violence. MIT Press.

Harman, G. (2018). Object-oriented ontology: A new theory of everything. Pelican Books.

Lanier, J. (2011). You are not a gadget: A manifesto (publ. in Penguin books with updated material). Penguin Books.

Meillassoux, Q. (2009). After finitude: An essay on the necessity of contingency (Pbk. ed). Continuum.

Simondon, G., Malaspina, C., & Rogove, J. (2017). On the mode of existence of technical objects.

Topic Modelling Nietzsche’s work

The last two posts talked about text mining and philosophy – http://man.herm3tica.tv/will-and-desire-along-modern-philosophy/ and http://man.herm3tica.tv/will-and-desire-along-modern-philosophy-ii/-. I treated to explore how computer tools can help us to understand from another point of view complex works -as the philosophical ones-. On the present post, I will continue using text mining applied to philosophy focussing the case of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche Topic Modeling

In this case, I joined several Nietzsche’s works creating a corpus. Specifficaly, I downloaded from Gutenberg Project the works: The birth of tragedy, Gay science, Zarathustra, Beyond god and evil, Human All too human, Ecce Homo, Antichrist, On the genealogy of moral and The will of power. I runned topicmodels package – https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=topicmodels– over this corpus to separate terms into 3 groups. Shown bellow the plot resulted:

Digital humanities: Text mining applied to philosophy

What we see here is the classification of the 10 most frequent words. As it’s seen, the first and the second topic are quite related. One of them is more oriented to time, art, nature and music; and the other one contains words like morality, people, truth or form. Finally, we have a third topic with words like thou, ye or Zarathustra, among others.

Digital humanities: Text mining applied to philosophy
Distance between Topics, Nietzsche

Per-Document classification

If we know Nietzsche’s work a little, it is not very difficult to guess which work is related with each topic: we find a cluster centered on Zarathustra; another one on The Birth of Tragedy; the last one on the works about moral and christianity. However, let’s plot these correlations using the argument gamma which indicates the per-document probability for each topic:

Digital humanities: Text mining applied to philosophy
Gamma values comparative by topic

Now we can see better how the algorithm distributes works along the topics. The majority of works belong just to one topic. It is because of this that they have two ceros and a one within each plot. Just few works have medium values: Human too human, Gay science and Ecce homo. Probably, we should consider these works as bridges within Nietzsche’s corpus. As we see, these bridges are situated, especially, on the works Human, All Too Human, even more Gay science and Ecce homo. At the same time, Ecce homo is the only work which has similarities with Zarathustra.

Other sources

This third post of text mining applied to philosophy gives continuity to previous studies. Among then, I would like to highlight the work of David M. Berry, especially the post Berry, D. M., & Rybicki, J. (2012, diciembre 19). The author signal: Nietzsche’s typewriter and medium theory. Stunlaw. http://stunlaw.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-author-signal-nietzsches-typewriter.html. This post points out how technologies influence in our production of knowledge, not just as a change of style. Of course, also the text Silge, J., & Robinson, D. (2017). Text mining with R: A tidy approach (First edition). O’Reilly. https://www.tidytextmining.com/ is a key reference regarding to the technical development.

Will and desire along Modern Philosophy II

Let’s continue with our work on philosophy and text mining. Looking our last post (http://man.herm3tica.tv/will-and-desire-along-modern-philosophy/) we can confirm how each philosopher speaks from a different point of view. In this new post, we will analyze these difference trying to find out how they express the concepts of will and desire along the philosophers chosen. First, I share with you again the last plot we created, we are going to talk about it now.

Philosophy Text Mining
click on the image to open it

Spinoza’s keywords

Quick looking at Spinoza’s results of analysis, we easily can affirm that his thought is deeply determined by a deductive point of view. Words like whatsoever, wherefore or contrariwise appear very high in the table -and after cleaning words like qed or corollary-. Also words like anyone, everyone or solely seem to refer to an expository reasonings. Then, we find words like emotion, affected, pleasurably, painfully which talk about sensations, the relation of the reason with the body. We can confirm this in a new plot where we represent the most frequent word bigrams in Spinoza’s Ethics:

Philosophy and text mining, Spinoza
click on the image to open it

Schopenhauer’s keywords

On Schopenhauer’s case, we find some similarities with Spinoza. For example, there are words related with reasonings such as principio, individuationis or even priori. However, I would highlight how Schopenhauer relates, these reasonings, with a complex process which goes from the abstract to the inner, from phenomenon and manifestation to an empirical objectification. To Schopenhauer, we live this as a suffering state. Of course, we should take in account we are considering just the first volume of Schopenhauer’s work, more introductory-. Let’s see on the Schopenhauer bigram plot how these ideas are represented:

Philosophy and text mining, Schopenhauer
click on the image to open it

Hegel’s keywords

If we look at Hegel, curiously, although he is always presented as an abstract an idealistic philosopher, we find that he has a lot of words related with the opposite: subjective, concrete, immediacy, subjectivity, actuality, particularity. Of course, we also have the others: universality, liberty, ethical, universal. Actually, the work of Hegel is plenty of contradictions and opposite movements. Also, we can see the term phase, as well as the opposites externality and implicit. Finally, we can find these contradictions on the Hegel bigram’s plot. However, the opposition is not so emotional than in Spinoza and Schopenhauer: instead the word body -as in Spinoza- now is a form that can be empty what is correlated with human.

Philosophy and text mining, Hegel
click on the image to open it

Nietzsche’s keywords

Finally, we have Nietzsche’s case, which is the most different approach. Of course, we have to consider the work we chose of Nietzsche: Zarathustra is not exactly a philosophical essay, but almost a novel. What Nietzsche tries with this work is to move the conflict between the abstract and the concrete, previously treated as reasoning matter, to a problem already embodied. Zarathustra represents that enbodyment, always speaking directly to ye, to brethren, yourselves, your

In this sense, is also interesting how he talks about the truth with an adverb –verily– as something that is happening; or how he introduces the pain and the suffer directly, with the scream of Zarathustra –ah!-. If we look at the bigram plot, we can also check how there is an important node on the thou; always with this coloquial and informal register which emphasizes closeness. On the other hand, we can see the great doubt of Zarathustra, between give and receive –spoke versus answered-. Actually, it seems he decided to give.

Philosophy and text mining, Nietzsche
click on the image to open it

So this post try to explore relations between philosophy and text mining. You can find more uses of tidytext package – https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/tidytext/index.html – applied to text minig here: https://www.tidytextmining.com/preface.html. I hope that in this case, the application to philosophy was, at least, attractive.

Will and desire along Modern Philosophy

In text mining, Tf-idf values (Term frequency- Inverse document frequency  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tf%E2%80%93idf) measure the frequency which a term appears in a document, but compensated with the more common terms that appear along the corpus where you are searching. In this way, you can obtain the key terms which, within a corpus, make more difference in between the documents –I presented some of these techniques before-. What it has to do with philosophy?

Philosophy Text Mining

As an approach, I decided to perform a Tf-idf analysis on a corpus of philosophy works. As everybody knows, sometimes, philosophy is hard to read, and not always we are able to finish a book or, even, we forget many things when days, weeks and months pass. Is because of this, and also because we are less and less able to manage the large amount of books published and traduced that arrive to our hands, that many people are beginning to use text mining to get closer to them. To be frank, in my case, I had already read the books I analyze here and, because of this, I realized that, even more, text mining could help you not just to get an approach, but also to learn, from another point of view, the texts you are working with. In fact, a similar perspective was proposed by Berry (2011, https://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/49813/1/BERRY_2011-THE_COMPUTATIONAL_TURN_THINKING_ABOUT_THE_DIGITAL_HUMANITIES.pdf) as a third wave of digital humanities trend some years ago.

From my point of view, one of the more interesting topics in philosophy always was the treatment of the will on the modern philosophy. There are several philosophers who were thinking about the human and the way in which we can overcome ourselves from different positions giving place to different philosophical movements. Among them, we can observe, for example, the philosophy of Spinoza -who on his Ethics treats the concept of desire as a conatus-; the philosophy of Hegel -who, although thought about the Spirit and rationality, includes in its movement the will, the force and the pain of its tearing-; Schopenhauer -who declared, inspired by oriental religion, that all we see is apparently an illusion but, ontologically, a will or volition; and finally Nietzsche -who transformed Schopenhauer nihilistic concept of will into a will of power-.

Philosophy Mining
Wordcloud with philosophers by color

On present visualizations, we can see the words that, being frequent in each work, are at the same time different in the whole selected corpus. I mean, we are front of the words which characterize Spinoza, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche philosophy -always taking in account that just some of their works have been analyzed, and after a cleaning- making more differences between them. In a quick look, we can state each philosopher is focussed in different aspects. What do you think about?

For this text mining work, the open text files available in the Gutenberg Project have been used.

Tec21 challenge model

Work on Tecnológico de Monterrey is being a vibrant experience. We are now developing a new pedagogical model which is called Tec21. The model is a challenge based model where the students have to face problems and real situations, most of them in contact with a professional stakeholder. In this sense, the lessons have to go further than just the contents. As a professor you always have to try to find the point where the theory touches the practice or, saying in other way, how the theory can be applied.

One of the problems we are finding has to do with the humanities. Of course, humanities are, at the beginning, a kind of knowledge that is not easy to connect with practice. Think about literature, art or philosophy; how all of these knowledges can be understood in a practical way? Are they actually related with our reality, daily worries and opportunity areas? Of course, we come from a modern society based on industrial development where is not very easy to locate the role of the humanities. If we think about the 19th and 20th century, of course, is going to be quite difficult to point out a very relevant role of the humanities along society and culture; however, it is being the same in the 21st century?

Many things have changed when entering in the 21st century. And probably, many of them have to do with a new value that humanities are gaining in the global context. The digital transformations have pushed us to an scenario where the value is not already the industrial force, but the information and the way in which we put it in relation. The mind and the subjectivity, as they are part of the core of any information process, are nowadays in the core of the culture and, even, in the social production. Of course, it is being a very strong transformation which, as is known, is being called the 4th or even the 5th industrial revolution. So, observing these important changes, humanities has to be relocated in the whole of the knowledge, taking in account how important are the subjective processes of cognition and sensibility.

Many people could think that it is not true, that our era has nothing to do with the humanities skills because the machines have taken the control. However, it is not accurate. Precisely, the challenge is to demonstrate how humanities skills can not be reduced to their replication on machines. Of course, machines can transform and even improve processes of though and sense; the question is that, doing it, what is more and more in the center are, in consequence, these skills.

In conclusion, as a Tec21 professor, the challenge we have is more and more clear, although it keeps difficult at the same time. We don’t have to show how the competences and subjects we treat at humanities are important, more and more it is becoming obvious; we have to understand better and deeper these competences because what is becoming darker is their essence, their originality. Tec21 is going to be an opportunity to do it and I hope I could share it soon.

Participation at the VIII International Conference of Borderlands

I participate with the paper Cyber borderlands and geopolitical crisis, at this International Conference on Thursday, October 3 at 5:30 pm; organized by Department of Humanities and Education of the Tecnológico de Monterrey. You can consult the paper on ResearchGate platform.

Internet appears in the 90s as a promise of utopian state without borders or bureaucratic restrictions. This is what Barlow (1996) proposes in his Declaration of independence from cyberspace; or also theorists like Pierre Levy (1997) when they reflect on the possibilities of cyberspace as a hyperconnected nomadic space of knowledge. With the arrival of the first 2000 the situation begins to change. New online service platforms appear in which access to information is no longer absolutely free. The new toll that is required is informational: the user registration, together with the new geolocation technologies incorporated into the devices that connect to the Internet, is setting up more and more a cyberspace in which borders reappear. The Internet ceases to be an open, smooth and absolutely hyperconnected space of knowledge and becomes a place of registration or even of a new, more incisive control and surveillance (Tiqqun, 2015; Deleuze, 2006). Analyzing this double movement, which we could read as a simultaneous or complementary movement of deterritorialization and reterritorialization (Deleuze & Guattari, 2002; Poster & Savat, 2009; Rogers, 2015) the question is to define how each of these components acts, what traits can be compensated and which ones stand out in one way or another. As Bratton (2015) points out, the new global cybernetic mega-structure erases the political map on which the current international geopolitics is based, putting in crisis, perhaps with more emphasis than in World War II, the Treaty of Peace of Westphalia (1648).

Workshop “Data Mining for Humanities with R”

On II Digital Humanities Journeys | 11 October 2019 | Tec de Monterrey

While data mining and statistical learning are born as tools of the exact sciences, business and government agencies, their value for human and social sciences has been increasingly demonstrated. Due to the growing interest aroused by the large amount of non-structure information shared on the Internet, techniques that explore texts, images, relational networks or geographic data have been required for analysis. It is precisely this type of data that the Humanities work with, thus benefiting from the evolution of computing tools. During this workshop we will examine some of the possibilities for this type of analysis with the free software tool R.

Collaboration on Automata’s Inner Movie book

My latest publication: “Is Big Data the new capture machine? Correlations between Data Mining and Gilles Deleuze philosophy”, in Curado, M. & Gouveia, S. S., (Eds.), Automata’s Inner Movie: Science and Philosophy of Mind, Vernon Press, 2019. Available at 24% discount using coupon CFC1720A4D2 at
https://vernonpress.com/book/692 or on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Automatas-Inner-Movie-Philosophy-Psychology/dp/1622736311/

Rural and urban cultural thinking and action meeting

I was invited to discuss the possibilities of the cultural and artists actions which connects the rural and the urban. Because of my experience at Alg-a Laboratory where an independent community produced many contents related with art and technology, the purpose of the meeting was to share several experiences of this kind. You will find more information on the Ministry of Culture of Spain.